Friday, October 3, 2008

WEAR YOUR BABY 5: RING SLINGS

This appealed to me most! From the ever-reliable Wikipedia:

"Ring Slings

These are baby carriers that use dynamic tension, a length of cloth and metal (such as aluminum) or nylon rings. One end of the cloth is sewn to two rings. The cloth wraps around the wearer's body from shoulder to opposite hip and back up to the shoulder, and the end is threaded through the rings to create a buckle effect. The baby sits or lies in the resulting pocket. Once a sling is threaded, it can be taken off and put back on without rethreading. A threaded sling forms a loop of cloth. The wearer can put one arm and the head through the loop of cloth to put the sling back on.

When the baby is in the carrier, the baby's weight puts tension on the fabric, and the combination of fabric tension, friction of fabric surfaces against each other and the rings combine to "lock" the sling in position. This type of sling can adjust to different wearers' sizes and accommodate different wearing positions easily: the wearer supports the baby's weight with one hand and uses the other hand to pull more fabric through the rings to tighten or loosen the sling. There are 6 basic wearing positions that are most commonly used, namely Reclining Cradle Hold, Cradle Hold, Snuggle Hold, Kangaroo Hold, Hip Carry and Piggy Back. The Cradle Holds are most useful for discreet breastfeeding."

Ring slings may be padded or unpadded at the shoulder, have padded or unpadded edges or "rails", and the "tail" of the sling may be open or closed. Some "hybrid" ring slings have curved seats sewn into the body, similar to the seam in a pouch. Ring slings are most closely related in use to the Mexican rebozo, the rings take the place of the knot.

Whether a user will prefer a padded or unpadded sling, closed tail or open tail, simple or hybrid body is highly individual and often simply a matter of taste. Ring slings are available in a variety of fabrics ranging from lightweight cotton calicos to silk brocade. Tencel, linen, hemp and rayon have also been used. Most common are homespun fabrics, lightweight twills, dupioni silk, and other fabrics with good tensile strength and a fair amount of diagonal "give". The rings may be nylon, aluminum, steel or other materials, but it is important that any materials used be of sufficient strength and that multiple layers of stitching be used to connect rings to fabric, as several recalls of ring slings have been caused by faulty rings (welds breaking) or stitching (insufficient stitching such that if a thread broke, there was no redundancy). Most rings used by manufacturers are either designed specifically for baby carriers, designed for high-tension situations like marine rigging or for securing heavy livestock. Lightweight craft rings should not be used. Fabrics which cannot safely hold a seam without fraying or tearing should not be used. Excessively slippery fabrics should be avoided.

Another significant point of variation is found in how the rings attach to the cloth, commonly referred to as "shoulder style". Basic shoulder styles include gathered, pleated, "hot dog" or "center fold", pouch-style (folded in half) and many variations. Which is more comfortable for a given user may depend on body shape (whether the user has rounded or square shoulders), sling fabric (some fabrics will only be comfortable with padding, others work better in a gathered, unpadded style) and user preference for a wider or narrower spread.

Ring slings can be used from birth through toddlerhood, but many parents find that heavier, non-mobile babies are easier to carry in a two-shouldered carrier such as a wrap or mei tai (see below) when carrying will be extended. However, for short-term use, or for toddlers and mobile babies who want to be picked up and set back down often, ring slings can be ideal. Ring slings are also considered very good for breastfeeding, their adjustability allows them to be lengthened to allow easy access to the breast, and they can then be re-adjusted quickly when nursing is done. Ring slings are often the carriers of choice in the first months of life, when babies are small and nurse frequently."

Sounds good!

Next: Our choice!

Lilypie Breastfeeding Ticker

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